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Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Sierra de Gredos, as a Wine Region

I’ve heard that wines from Sierra de Gredos are fashionable these days and that it’s the up-and-coming next big thing! But I’m not so sure. I suspect that it’s just some sort of media hype, or meme, or runaway phenomenon that has taken on a life of its own, because there is absolutely nothing new happening on the ground! I’ve been working there for 4 years now.

Sadly, there are no new wineries opening up; there are no new winemakers moving in; the vineyards are still being torn up like every year;

This is extremely annoying because the Sierra de Gredos really does have everything going for it as a wine region:

-                 Soil. Mostly granite covered with a topsoil of sand. But thanks to geological upheavals millions of years ago, there are also some interesting outcrops of slate

-                 Altitude. Mostly between 600 and 1200 m above sealevel

-                 Slopes. North-, south-, east-, west-facing. Take your pick

-                 Rivers. Alberche, and Tietar plus numerous streams and tributaries

-                 Temperature ranges. Yes! Big differentials between day and night temperatures. And between summer and winter temperatures

-                 Rainfall. Perfecto! Enough at the right times. Basically, 0% probability of rain during harvest. (Well, let’s just say <0 .5="" be="" o:p="" on="" safe="" side="" the="" to="">

-                 Long grape-growing tradition

-                 Interesting grape varieties to work with. The emblematic varieties are Garnacha (red) and Albillo (white), but there are several other varieties that are completely unused, unappreciated and scorned (Doré, Chelva, Morenillo, Villanueva, ...)

That seems to cover everything. But wait! There’s something really important missing, and it’s called... “winemakers”!  
    
Here’s a quick-n-dirty comparison with another region, of the same size, more or less - Burgundy:


Burgundy (France)
Sierra de Gredos (Spain)
Size, in kms
120 km x 20 km
150 km x 75 km
Size, in hectares planted to vines
29,000
 3,500 and shrinking
DO’s or AOC’s
100
none!
Independent winemakers
4000
20
Bulk wine cooperatives
23
5
Négociants / Merchants
250
none!




How strange! Why are there so few winemakers in a region with the size and wine-making potential of Sierra de Gredos? Go figure. I have no idea. Any suggestions welcome.

And another question I have is ‘What to do about it?’  This question is probably even more difficult to answer!








 
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